Covid-19 related research - call for proposals

The Cryo-Electron Microscopy Service Platform at EMBL Heidelberg provides mail-in access to its state-of-the-art cryo-EM equipment for COVID-19-related projects (single-particle analysis and cryo-electron tomography) using the latest technology and methods. The platform hosts a FEI Titan Krios G3 equipped with a phase plate and a Quantum-K3 camera and a 200 kV FEI Talos Arctica with an electron counting Falcon 3 camera. Both microscopes are equipped with an automatic sample loading system and configured for automatic data acquisition.

Users can send in optimized frozen cryo-EM grids for high-resolution data collection. Data collection will be carried out by EMBL experts in close consultation with the users. In addition, we also offer freezing and screening of grids for shipped-in purified samples depending on capacity.

If you want to benefit from free access to the Cryo-Electron Microscopy Service Platform at EMBL Heidelberg for COVID-19-related research, please send a project description to cryo-em@embl.de. Projects will be evaluated with respect to scientific quality, feasibility and biological safety. The project description should therefore include project goals, description of the samples (i.e. cryo-EM images, class averages of cryo-EM images, biophysical characterization) and biological safety of the samples.

Application form for COVID-19-related projects

For all other projects, there are two modes of access to the platform:

iNEXT Discovery

iNEXT Discovery

AutoGrid clipping station

Starting from 1 February 2020, European scientists can apply to access advanced cryo-EM technologies at EMBL Heidelberg through the H2020 project iNEXT Discovery. iNEXT Discovery runs from February 2020 until January 2024 and funds costs related to the microscope access, travel and accommodation of scientists coming to EMBL for single particle cryo-EM data acquisition, cryo-electron tomography and cryo-CLEM-TEM. All interested researchers are invited to submit their research proposal for independent scientific and technical evaluation organized by iNEXT Discovery, based on which access will be granted. At the times of pandemic, we can only provide remote access, where the users will ship their samples to us and we will perform measurements for you.

Single particle cryo-EM data acquisition and cryo-electron tomography: Researchers can apply for the high-end cryo-EM data acquisition if they have samples of a quality suitable for high-end imaging. The access will normally consist of three days of imaging one sample (one day for sample screening and two days of data acquisition on Titan Krios). Results will be supervised and discussed with our cryo-EM experts. We will also support a limited number of researchers who are new to cryo-EM. Upon successful application and consultation with us, these researchers can send their expressed and purified proteins or assembled complexes that are fully biochemically and biophysically characterised (e.g. by multiple angle light scattering, thermal shift assays or similar). We will qualitatively assess particle heterogeneity and obtain low resolutions maps. Promising samples will be prepared using cryo-EM vitrification methods and if sample quality allows, can be considered for the high-end data acquisition. 

Cryo-CLEM-TEM: Cryo-CLEM-TEM will be used for specimens that are thin enough to be directly imaged in the TEM (<300 nm) including thin cellular peripheries, in vitro reconstitutions or cellular fractionation. A single experiment will last ~10 days including preparation of cells on grids, vitrification by plunge-freezing, cryo-fluorescence microscopy, correlated cryo-electron tomography, preliminary data reconstruction and evaluation.This service requires presence of iNEXT users at EMBL and will only become available once covid-related limitations on hosting external researchers are over. 

Service Access

Service Access

Talos Arctica viewed from its control room

This mode of access allows more flexibility for data collection strategies: one can bring several samples for the screening session and decide for a number of days of high-end data collection on each sample (2 days minimum per grid). This process is also curated by external referees and applications should be made using this form. Sessions will consist of a first screening session (1 day) on a Talos Arctica (or Titan Krios depending on availability), followed by a predetermined number of days of high-end data acquisition on a Titan Krios.

External academic users will contribute to the running costs of the facility with the sum of € 5,000 for the basic acquisition package (one day with full support on a Talos  Arctica + two day of automated acquisition on a Titan Krios). If additional acquisition time on Titan Krios is required, we request further contribution of € 2,000 per day towards the running costs of the facility. EMBL will request this payment through a simple letter (called “Request for reimbursement of costs”) to you, which cannot have a title “Invoice”. Please check with your finance department before your visit if this will be acceptable for them. If any question arrises, please feel free to contact us.

Non-academic users (industry) should contact us directly with their access enquiries.